The Middlesex Girls' Varsity Crew team took to Lake Quinsigamond on Saturday, May 25th for the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Championships. Thanks to strong regular-season racing, all four boats qualified to compete at this premier high school rowing event. The boats, seeded between 5th and 11th place, competed in the morning heats for the chance to race for medals in the grand finals of their event.
In the third and fourth boats, Middlesex came in 3rd place in the morning heats and placed 6th in New England in the grand finals. The second boat rowed in a fast morning heat, placing 4th, just out of the top two to qualify for the finals. In the first boat, seeded 8th, Middlesex blew away the field to come in a strong second place in their morning heat, qualifying them to move on to the grand finals.
The first boat grand finals at the NEIRA championship is one of the toughest races in the country in high school rowing. Winning crews in this race will often go on to win or medal at the national level. This year's race was one for the books! Off the start, perennial powerhouse Groton took an early lead, while Greenwich Academy (seeded 2nd), Winsor (seeded 3rd), and Middlesex (seeded 8th), battled for second place. By the 500-meter mark, these four crews had pulled away from Newton Country Day School, but Lyme/Old Lyme High School was still within contact. At the 750-meter mark, Middlesex made an gutsy move on Groton to pull up even, breaking away from Winsor and Greenwich. The Middlesex crew, stroke to coxswain, of Miranda Gish '14, Kathryn Regan '14, Sarah Kate Read '13, Charlotte Silk '14, and Bettina Lichauco '15, did not give an inch to Groton. Stroke by stroke, Middlesex rowed through this Groton crew, to whom they had lost by 7 seconds in the regular season. Across the line it was Middlesex in the lead by a deck. It was an incredible race, and the first time since 1978 that Middlesex has won the girls' first boat event. Back in '78, it was current head coach Laura Darby McNally '80 in the stroke seat! The final times were:
Lyme/Old Lyme 5:31.0
As a team, Middlesex placed fourth in New England. With their win, the first boat earned an invitation to the US Rowing Youth Nationals in Oak Ridge, Tennessee June 5-7th.